Slideshow: 27 Cool Coats of Arms

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Coats of arms are heraldic designs that grew out of the European Middle Ages. They were originally meant to distinguish people in combat because faces were concealed by helmets. Now whole families, provinces, states and agencies have them, but the most well-known are those of nations.

577px-Greater_Coat_of_Arms_of_the_Russian_Empire_1700x1767_pix_Igor_Barbe_2006 Coat_of_arms_of_Mutawakkilite_Kingdom_of_Yemen Coat_of_Arms_of_Ireland 591px-Coat_of_arms_of_Uzbekistan_cyrillic.svg 524px-Coat_of_arms_of_Vietnam.svg 463px-Slovenia_Coat_of_Arms Jamaica_coa_old Brasao_au 606px-National_Emblem_Of_Nepal Coat_of_arms_of_New_Zealand 541px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Switzerland_(Pantone).svg Coat_of_Arms_of_Iceland_2 Kazakh_coa Italia,1806.(TZ) 486px-Imperial_Coat_of_Arms_of_the_Empire_of_Austria.svg 485px-Emblem_of_Israel.svg Coat_of_Arms_of_Pahlavi_dynasty_and_Iran Escudo_de_Costa_Rica 660px-Coat_of_arms_of_Côte_d'Ivoire_variant.svg 410px-Royal_Arms_of_England_(1198-1340).svg 331px-Arms_of_the_Kingdom_of_France_(Ancien).svg 362px-Greater_coat_of_arms_of_Sweden_(without_ermine_mantling,_compartment_and_supporters).svg 540px-State_emblem_of_Mongolia.svg 330px-Lesser_Coat_of_Arms_of_Ukraine.svg 598px-Emblem_of_South_Korea.svg 691px-Coat_of_arms_of_Chile 607px-Coat_of_arms_of_South_Sudan.svg
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The origin of the Swiss cross is debated among various legends, but has been used since at least the 12th century. One legend has it first used by the Theban Legion, a Roman army division that converted to Christianity before being totally martyred. Credit: E Pluribus Anthony, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Switzerland.